Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ocala, Florida: The Mothership is Calling Me Home

I alluded to the fact that Ocala is beautiful.  Blah, blah blah.  But horse dorks guys, I've seen a lot of horse country all over the place.  Kentucky bluegrass has nothing on Ocala.    

Everywhere we drove, the landscape stretched out in rolling, green hills bound by miles of board fencing.

Not only that, but the fencing was all built ON THE RIGHT SIDE!!!  Psssst! If you want to keep livestock in, it helps to mount the boards on the inside of the fence.  Nail your boards to the outside of the vertical posts, and any horse, cow, miniature donkey, or dachshund can pop that fence out with a little leaning action. 

Several times, we drove past signs like this listing the horse farms in that neighborhood. Yeah.  There's a couple of horses round these parts.

This is a lovely place called Blue Sink Farm.  It's located just around the corner from my father-in-law's former house.

Some fields are surrounded by tree groves.

...And there are occasionally cattle.  But only occasionally.

This scenic old hay barn was huuuuuuuge. 

Although it's now falling apart, it once would have stored many thousands of bales of hay.  It sits on a fabulous piece of property once owned by a man my stepmother-in-law worked for.  Trust me when I say it is an amazing farm- hundreds of acres, a ginormous main barn complete with steeples, the works. 

Legend has it, one day my stepmother-in-law decided she didn't like the way the dirty bedding was loaded, so she climbed to the top of the hay wagon (full of dozens of stalls' worth of manure), singlehandedly pushed it all off, and told the guys to re-load it.  And do it right this time. 

It's just the kind of gal she is, and probably why that old curmudgeon loved having her manage his training barn.

I'm pretty sure that didn't win her any "Best Boss" awards.

But I bet the hay wagon was loaded better the next day.

This was part of the same spread, called Quail Roost Farm.  From what we could tell, the farm's racetrack (yes they had their own) isn't there anymore.  Now, only the poles remain.  They stand as sentries and reminders of the past.

Entrances like these were at every turn.  Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?

Be still my beating heart.  Is there a more beautiful way to simply drive down a street?  My preferred mode of transit is now in anything underneath arching, moss-covered limbs.

This photo may just add insult to injury.  In Texas, we can't even manage to grow hay these days

This particular farm was perhaps less scenic, but filled with memories for Cabbage.  It was right about here that the racehorse Cabbage was training threw him over the rail.

Cabbage said it was a long walk back to the barn.  Actually, what he said was:

When I did get back to the barn, which took me a while because that's a seven-eighths of a mile track, I did make them leg me back up on that horse.  I mean I got right back up.

Because I'm a sensitive and caring wife who bolsters my husband's ego at every turn, I remarked:

And by 'right back up' you mean forty minutes later.  After you walked back.  On your own two feet.

That's right, he said.

So I guess he showed that horse who was boss.


  1. wow, that really IS beautiful country and you are correct, even more beautiful than the Lexington area......just beautiful......

    ah, memories......


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